Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Illegal fishing and other concerns: a challenge to islanders
Here are some final responses to the issue of illegal longline fishing around small islands.
Joeli Rokovada from Fiji writes: I would like to contribute to this discussion. I believe that increased policing by aerial and maritime patrols, by itself, is not the answer to the problem. There needs to be a strong maritime intelligence gathering capacity. This requires a sound partnership between stakeholders, fisheries agencies, and other relevant authorities such as Customs, Interpol, etc. There would need to be an effective information exchange network amongst these groups, both local and overseas. So that, for example, the migratory pattern of pelagic tuna species, would be well known to the maritime surveillance authorities, thus ensuring effective policing and cost effective operations. Without such a system in place, maritime policing and law enforcement arrangements can become counter productive and waste resources.
And finally Mali Voi writes from Samoa: Since this topic was brought to the attention of this forum, I have read every article. I have remained pondering upon WHAT should be done and HOW to do something about illegal longline fishing, especially bearing in mind that fish are so important for food security in many small islands. Fisheries lie within the mandate of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and I have conducted a search to find out what FAO has done and is doing with regards to controlling the poachers of fish and other marine life.
In 1998, FAO produced a series of publications consisting of seven volumes, covering all aspects of fisheries, ranging from international conventions including the International Law of the Sea (high seas and Exclusive Economic Zone), rules and regulations governing behaviour of UN Member States, and ethical and moral responsibilities of states concerning aquaculture and fisheries related issues. Volume 1 covers fishing operations and guidelines for responsible fisheries.
I think the issue of illegal longline fishing should be included on the agenda when the small island developing States meet in Mauritius later this year to discuss their Programme of Action for sustainable development.
In the meantime, we should use islanders’ singing heritage to convey, from our hearts, our collective concerns. I have always admired this special gift of islanders. Please allow me to digress and take this opportunity to take a journey to yesterday to two songs that express our ‘islanderism’ as a crossroads of all civilizations. Do you remember West Indian Harry Belafonte’s voice in ‘This is my island in the sun, Willed to me by my father’s hand, All my days I will sing in praise, Of your forests, waters and shining sand.’ I am still trying to search for the songwriter who created the beautiful tune and lyrics of this island song.
Similarly Papua New Guinea’s Hetai Dickson’s voice in ‘Roaming days are over, Am going home, Back to the isles, I used to know’ and with a chorus: ‘Come back come, Come back to my island home with me where the ocean breezes swing the old palm trees, we’ll sit and watch the clouds go by, far above my Isle of Samarai.’ There are other lovely songs with similar sentiments of islands’ heritage.
Now, here is a challenge. Why not compose songs that can be heard widely about the concerns of small island? I rest my case. Many thanks.
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